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This Is Not a Test Paperback – June 19, 2012

4.2 out of 5 stars 239 customer reviews
Book 1 of 1 in the This is Not a Test Series

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 10 Up-Sloane Price has been raised by an abusive father, and her life is a living nightmare. Her only silver lining is her older sister, her protector and her main source of strength. But Lily runs away, abandoning Sloane and leaving her to deal with the consequences. The past six months of torment have left the teen a shell of her former self and destroyed her will to live. When the zombie apocalypse strikes, she flees one life of horror in exchange for another. Rescued by a group of teenagers, Sloane and company painstakingly make their way across town, finding refuge inside Cortege High School. Huddled behind barricades, the group tries to make sense of the madness outside while grieving for their loved ones-all while hearing the constant thump, thump of the zombies at the doors. This Is Not a Test is a riveting and powerful novel that unfolds through the brutal first-person narrative of Sloane, a broken teen who in many ways is already dead. As the story evolves, the relationships among the characters intensify as they are pushed to the brink of humanity. Summers's brilliant writing has readers confronting their own fears while witnessing what happens to good people when forced to make ruthless decisions in a senseless world. This fascinating and haunting story with sophisticated content and themes will stay with readers long after they finish the last page.-Donna Rosenblum, Floral Park Memorial High School, NYα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review

This Is Not a Test is both sexy and desolate, and it will blast a hole through your heart, yet somehow start to stitch it back together again” ―Daisy Whitney, author of The Mockingbirds and The Rivals

“Courtney Summers is a ferocious talent in YA fiction. This Is Not a Test brought me to tears, caused me to gasp in shock in public places, and almost put a stop to my heart . . . Summers' voice is raw with emotion, and utterly right for the impending zombie apocalypse.” ―Nova Ren Suma, author of Imaginary Girls

“[Courtney Summers] blends all the perfection and simplicity that defines her writing so well with this added paranormal element for a snappy, exciting story I just couldn't stop reading, and then I got to the very end and realized that it was about so much more than just making it out alive.” ―Julie Cross, author of Tempest

“Intriguing.... It takes some artistic guts to set a portrayal of a suicidal teenager amid attacking zombies, but Summers has a history of risky choices.... Unusual and absorbing.” ―Kirkus

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin (June 19, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312656742
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312656744
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (239 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #389,551 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
*Complimentary copy provided. This does NOT affect my review in any way.*

What happens when the girl who never wanted to keep going ends up being one of the only to survive?

This book just blew me away. The prose was absolutely wonderful, the book well-written, the plot shocking, and the characters are complex, each with their own ups and downs. I'll admit, I was worried that witht he zombies, I wouldn't like it, much less love it. I've never liked zombies so I was a bit nervous to start this book. And yet, I still dove head-first in this awesome book. This has been said so many times (About a gazillion), but zombies were not a major part of This is Not a Test. I repeat, they were not a major part of Thisis Not a Test. Another worry: They were locked in a school? How was Courtney Summers going to write a 300 page story in the same exact setting? I didn't know, I thought it was impossible. But somehow she did it and not only did she accomplish it, she made it into one of my favorite books of 2012!

Let's talk about the creep factor: I was reading This is Not a Test at night, despite many warnings not to, and had reached a part where the zombies come a-knocking. And....my door creaked open. That was the part where I put the book down and turned out the lights. The writing is intense, to say the least. After all, we have 6 teenagers who are desperate to stay alive after everyone and everything they loved have gone up in smoke (figuratively, of course.) No matter how annoying the characters become, you can't help but forgive them for each stupid thing. They just felt so real, so sad, and so...ugh. Tehre are no words for how amazing these characters are, despite their shortcomings.
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This book has been touted as one of the big YA blockbusters of the summer, so I have been waiting eagerly for it to come out.

Good zombie YA fiction is hard to come by. This Is Not a Test by Courtney Summers is an attempt to rectify that fact. We are introduced to Sloane, the protagonist, who has been beaten repeatedly by her father and is completely emotionally dependent on her sister Lily, who has just run away and has left Sloane behind. Sloane is about to commit suicide when the infection takes hold of the rest of the town, converting everyone into zombies, except a select few teenagers who have holed up in their high school. What follows is a combination of a horror movie and Lord of the Flies. The teens have to make hard decisions and try to stay alive.

There are a lot of wonderful things about this book. The tone is dark and depressing, and it should be. I'm still thinking about what happened in the book. There are strong supporting characters and Summers is not afraid to kill off characters. How the future unfolds is not out of the realm of possibility in a zombie apocalypse. And how things deteriorate inside of the school is also very believable.

I wonder at the decision to make Sloane the protagonist. It's an interesting choice, because during the whole book she is trying to find ways to commit suicide, and yet, she still remains alive even though many other people succumb to the virus. She seems to drift through the book like a ghost. I try to imagine if another character had been the main one-- the idea that there is a suicidal person surviving in an end of world situation is interesting, but one that doesn't maintain interest throughout a whole novel.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The most important thing I can share about this book is that is it NOT about zombies. So don't read it if you're only into zombies. It is indeed set during the zombie apocalypse, but it is not ABOUT that. The whole end of the world thing is merely a very dramatic (and bloody) backdrop to a much simpler and more familiar story about how much it sucks to be a teenager. Granted, the protagonist, Sloane, has had to deal with a lot more than most teenagers (e.g. abuse), but her sense of isolation and despair are things a lot of young folks can probably relate to (and slightly older folks like me can remember all too well).

That being said, I still found the book to be pretty mediocre. As another reviewer notes, it doesn't really add anything to the conversation (whether that conversation is about zombies or teen angst). The author does throw around some interesting ideas about survival and the will to live and what it means to be alive, but again, it's not really anything new (or better).
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**spoiler alert**

The lack of zombies in This Is Not a Test, while understandably off-putting to many of its more vocal readers, is not what very nearly made me put it down after less than a chapter.

I love my zombie stories, but I'll also go for a good lock-in style character drama, and if it happens to be set in a high-school-turned-zombie-fortress, so much the better. This is what is promised on the back cover of This Is Not a Test, after all, and that's fine.

Once the book is actually open, however, our heroine, Sloane, is introduced surrounded by a forest of literary red flags. She is sheltering in her bathroom from her one-dimensionally abusive father, looking unsuccessfully for a bottle of sleeping pills, and ineffectually contemplating the arteries of her wrists, which apparently aren't good enough for the job in spite of her wholehearted determination to die.

On the first page of a book fresh off the shelf, the scene feels like it's going to be lazy shorthand for "You must sympathize with this poor, blameless, complex character who has no reason to waste precious pages saying goodbye to her old life before we get down to apocalyptic fun, non-threatening love interest, possibly some more irreproachably serious angst when it suits the plot, and then happy ever after." This turns out not to be the case.

Sloane is not an insulting portrayal of a suicidal abuse victim (at least not as far as this product of a loving home can tell). Instead, she's an un-insulting portrayal of a suicidal abuse victim, which, while objectively better, isn't much easier to spend three hundred thirty-six pages with.

Her past trauma and lost will to live realistically dominate her character for the duration of the story.
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